Monday, February 23, 2009

Stashbusters! And a story about SWIII

Time to move away from the Sweater Zone and step over into Sock Land. I inhabit Sock Land most of the time by having a pair (or two) on the sticks at any given moment. At this moment, however, I have NO WIP because I've just completed a pair that I started in January.

Introducing - The Stashbusters! These socks were inspired by Sock Wars III which I competed in last year. The contest was an unorganized mess plagued by drama after drama, but that's what makes for good entertainment, isn't it! SWIII started on May 9th with 1153 international competitors vying to be the last knitter standing. I was lucky(?), and did quite well in the contest - finishing in 21st place by finally dying in September after taking down 5 warriors myself . The entire contest ended in October, with a deserving warrior on top of the heap of bodies.

This contest was sponsored by the South West Trading Company, makers of TOFUtsies yarn. Those of you who have used TOFUtsies know that SWTC is very generous with their yardage -providing about 460 yards per skein. The contest sock pattern, The Detonator, was designed a bit too large in diameter, and had a very short leg length. Consequently, it used less yarn than a typical pair of ladies socks, and didn't fit a single one of the 1153 participants. This is probably why the photo on the pattern shows the socks being modelled by a small, hairy-legged man. I ended the contest with several partial skeins of TOFUtsies, each roughly sufficient in length to make one sock. [NOTE: I should mention resoundly that SWTC had nothing to do with the chaos of the contest nor the illfittingness of the Detonator pattern. Quite the opposite - they were instrumental in keeping the contest moving along and motivating the participants.] [Another NOTE: If illfittingness isn't a word, it should be.]

Hence my goal for these socks was to come up with a pattern that would consume the partial skeins. I got a hankering (I'm from Nebraska, I can get those) to play with a slip stitch pattern, so I consulted Ms. Walker and found a simple, yet interesting one with a 4 stitch repeat. I had to modify the stitch pattern to give it a larger vertical gauge so that the patterned top of the foot of the sock would be the same length as the stockinette sole of the sock. That required a half-sock worth of frogging, but it was worth it. The sock pattern uses two colors, that alternate every 4 rows. The two colors I used look really horrible together when the skeins are held side-by-side, but have great energy when combined in this slip-stitch pattern.

During the contest, I got virtually acquainted with the couple that run SWTC - Jonelle and Joe Ruffino. Through that contact, I helped Joe to set up a Knit Night in San Diego while they were in town for TNNA last month. It was great to meet them in person, and to see their family of yarns. Jonelle is lovely lady and an inspiration to all women who have an entrepreneurial spirit. I showed them these socks while they were in progress in January, and now I'll get to show them the completed pair at Stitches!

Now as for that completely unacceptable NO WIP situation... I'm casting on a new pair of socks. It's a new pattern I'm working out, and I'll be using the Knitters Brewing Sock-aholic in Raspberry Mojito. I'm hoping it turns out to be a fairly simple pattern to work, because I plan to be working on it while I'm at Stitches (read: while I'm having cocktails.) Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I finished assembling my sweater last night at SnB - yay!!! The group had me go to the coffee shop ladies room to put it on for immediate modeling.

They're so funny :-)

It fits great, looks like the original drawing, and is completed well on time, so it's a big success in my book! I have some extra beads that just might become a pair of earrings to match.

So what's next? I also have a pair of socks on the sticks that I'm going to finish for Stitches. I don't believe I've mentioned them yet - so that will be my next post. I'm also going to start working on a succession of fingering weight designs to support the KBC Sock-aholic yarns - time to get back to work!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 31 - In the Home Stretch!

Hubby and I went to Disneyland last weekend - it was our romantic Valentine's Day trip. Just an intimate trip for the two of us, and 67,000 other tourists. Lots of fun as always, although I did get attacked by Pluto! He must have smelled that hamburger in my pocket.

As hubby drove to Anaheim and back, I worked away in the passenger seat on the peplum for my Stitches sweater - and finished it!
I love the way the peplum looks - especially now that it is blocked. It drapes very nicely. The stitch pattern gave it a pretty lacey look, without making it too revealing - I wouldn't want anyone getting unauthorized peeks at my belly!

The knitting is officially finished, and now I just need to finish the assembly. I might even finish it today!!! I need to attach the peplum to the waistband, and to seam and attach the second sleeve. My next post should be me modeling the finished garment!

Friday, February 13, 2009

13 Days To Go!

Thirteen days left before Stitches West - can I get the sweater done? I think so!

Got pleasantly distracted for a few days while my cousin was visiting. She is also an avid knitter, so if we weren't knitting, we were talking about knitting, shopping for knitting, dying yarn for knitting, or drinking. A few times we had cocktails while knitting, but that only works for one or two - and then it becomes counterproductive. She and I are about the same age and were pretty close when we were kids, but haven't spent much time together as adults. We found that not much had changed between us - except instead of talking about clothes, boys, and periods, we now talk about clothes, men, and hot flashes.

The sweater is coming along well. I recovered from the sleeve cap incident quite nicely, and the first sleeve is sewn to the bodice and looks great. The second sleeve has been knit, but I haven't seamed or attached it yet. I'm working on the lacy peplum now, shown above. It will be about 11 inches long when complete, and flares out a bit - from a 160 stitch diameter at the top to a 240 stitch diameter at the bottom. It's being knit bottom-up, and the lower edge has a cute wavey thing going. I started with 24 lace pattern repeats going around the bottom, and am deciding how to work in the decreases as I go. Thank god I'm not trying to write this pattern down for publishing. At this point it's a ridiculous jumble of scribbled drawings with alphanumeric codes written all over them that even I can't figure out the day after I write them.

The best part of the peplum is that I get to use lots of my cool stitch markers. My friend Judy beaded a bunch of them for me, and they are so pretty I wish I could just knit them into the sweater. [Note to self: hmmmm.... think about future project I can knit stitch markers into...]

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sleeve One: Take 2

My husband is a woodworker, and we often discuss the many similarities between our hobbies. We both enjoy the process of making something unique by hand. We both get to work with wonderful natural materials. We each enjoy learning new techniques, and sometimes we have to learn them the hard way.

Today, I'm seeing where there is a major difference between our project work. If he joins two pieces together, and doesn't like the results, he is often stuck with it because he has cut special joints, used glue, or put nails or screws into his project. If I join two pieces and the result looks like crap, I can just pull it out and redo it. It's a beautiful thing.

Normally when I join a set-in sleeve to a bodice armhole, I graft the sleeve into the hole using a kitchner-esque kind of stitch. The result looks neat and smooth, and the seam is generally not very obvious - which, of course, is the goal.

For some reason, I decided to try something new this time. As I was knitting the sleeve on the machine, I decided to leave the stitches along the edge of the sleeve cap "live", instead of eliminating them using decreases or binding them off. Each time I was supposed to bind-off or decrease a stitch at the beginning or end of a row, I simply took it off the machine and put it on a holder, and continued to work the remaining stitches. The result was a well-shaped sleeve cap, with live stitches all the way around it. I then picked up the same number of stitches around the armhole, and joined the two together using a 3-needle bind off. While the result looked tidy on the inside of the garment, it looked pretty gappy and obvious from the public side. It had to go.

So... I removed the 3-needle bind off to separate the the sleeve from the bodice, and pulled out the entire 47 rows of the sleeve cap. Since the seam has already been sewn up the inside of the arm, the sleeve is in a fairly tight tube, and won't fit back onto the machine to be reknit. I hadn't yet done any swatches to see what manual needle size matches the machine gauge I'm using, and didn't really feel like doing any swatching (who ever does?), so I grabbed the needles I thought would work, and it looks like I've gotten lucky. I'm about halfway through reknitting the sleeve cap now, and, once completed, will rejoin the sleeve to the bodice in my tried and true method. I'm just glad I didn't make both sleeves the wrong way before I tried to attach one of them.